Purple & Orange & Green, Oh My!

By: qwerty53

Mar 20 2012

Tags: , ,

Category: Crawfish Boil, Helena, AL, St. Paddy's Day, Uncategorized

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Focal Length:18mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:NIKON D300S

This past weekend was just fabulous weather-wise, with spring popping out in wisteria, redbuds, dogwoods. I spotted this huge tree covered in wisteria. It made me think, first of my mom, who always wore purple and was known in our Tennessee hometown as ‘The Purple Lady’.

That huge wisteria tree seemed creature-like—there was a face up there, I’m sure. Her limb-arms were pointing to the heavens and though her clothing hung askew and rag-like, in my eyes it was transformed  into a gown of lavender blossoms.

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Now, I’ve not lost any sleep over the fact I’ve never attended a traditional crawfish boil.

This past Saturday down at Papa Saia’s St. Paddy’s Day Hoo-Ha, however, I was able to get up close and personal and document the last moments of hundreds of flailing crawfish before their dump into the boiling cauldron. I am way too softhearted, but couldn’t help thinking about how they might approach this significant life passage.

I was able to stick my camera lens up close to their little pop-eyes and try to read their expressions.

I didn’t hear any prayers being muttered among their doomed little bodies, but it is entirely possible that in crustacean-speak, that was what was happening. And I will say that the demeanor of Byron Holloway and Earl Holley, the two guys doing the prep-work and boiling, was very kindly and at the same time very thorough in eliminating those unfortunates who had suffocated in the sack before their arrival.

Earl said they started at 8:30 am that morning and by around 5 pm, served up about 540 pounds of crawfish!

Earl and Byron and their helper, Jennifer Sellers, call themselves ‘friends’ of the Papa Saia family and regulars from the previous location.

When they heard I had never eaten crawfish, they were quick to point me over to the ice chest. They even offered to shuck it for me. I told them I needed to get some “shots” first, meaning photographs of the crowd.

“If you start doing shots, they warned, “you may not be in any condition to remember to come back to sample.”

Clearing that misconception up generated laughter all around!

The crawfish are put in holding tanks/pans for their first freshwater bath, then they go into a second bath where they are sprinkled with salt and then rinsed again. At this point, the rejects (deceased) accept their fate and are tossed handily in Buck Creek to provide nutrients for the ecosystem.

The ‘keepers’ are topped with several squeezed lemons, onions and a pound or two of butter while waiting for their steam bath. They emerge glowing UT orange and then it’s onto ice and into the cooler where they wait to meet their Maker, uh, I mean their Eater!

Hard to believe I didn’t see one person I knew out on the deck over Buck Creek!

But I did meet a young man who was eating his 8th heaping platter of crawfish with his family. I now regret not asking his name, because he was all decked out in his ASU Middle School shirt and not all shy about posing for a photo. Before I left, I caught sight of him heading back for a 9th platter, and I was inwardly wishing him a safe digestive trek home.


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